In the past few weeks, I have had many people call me because “Microsoft popped up on my computer and told me to call them because I have multiple instances of pornographic malware on my computer.” If they try to click away from the popup, it starts yelling the warning at them and threatening them that if they shut off their computer, they will lose all of their documents and pictures.
Here are a few things you should know and share with anyone who is in danger of believing these pop ups.
Microsoft will never popup on your computer and tell you to call them. Neither will Dell, HP, Apple or any other tech company.
These popups are cookies that are hidden on the internet waiting to scam anyone that happens to click on the wrong item.
They work off of fear and they hack your browser which seems to lock your computer. Sometimes you can go to the task manager and quit your browser. If you can’t quit your browser, you need to do a hard reset. (Press and hold the power button for at least 15 seconds until all lights and sounds turn off) Once you turn your computer back on, open your browser but don’t allow it to restore your tabs; this will only bring back the browser hacker.
They are trying to get you to let them on your computer. They can only do this if you call them. Once on your computer they can do any number of things; Plant a keylogger, steal your passwords, add a pre-windows password which will disable your computer unless you pay hundreds of dollars to them, or they might add a few free tools and try to charge hundreds of dollars to clean up the malware.
I have checked out many computers after getting this popup and none of them received any damaging viruses from the initial popup. The only time there was damaging viruses and malware was after they called the number and allowed them on their computer.
Here is my video about this. It includes a video of the pop-up.
with your aging parents. The talk about how to avoid becoming a victim of scams.
*The Federal Trade Commission received more than 2.1 million fraud reports from consumers in 2020, according to newly released data, with imposter scams remaining the most common type of fraud reported to the agency.
*Consumers reported losing more than $3.3 billion to fraud in 2020, up from $1.8 billion in 2019. Nearly $1.2 billion of losses reported last year were due to imposter scams, while online shopping accounted for about $246 million in reported losses from consumers.
*Just over a third of all consumers who filed a fraud report with the FTC—34 percent—reported losing money, up from just 23 percent in 2019.
Your parents grew up in a different time. A time before the technology that is a part of our current daily life, was even invented. They may not understand it and that alone makes them an easier target for scams. They also were taught to be courteous and not rude. Today’s scammers will not stop for courteous responses. You must hang up and not answer when they call back. Your parents need to know that even if the voice on the phone seems like an expert, they should check it out with you or a trusted advisor before giving the caller any information or access to their devices. If the caller won’t wait for that they are definitely trying to scam.
Having this conversation with mom or dad doesn’t mean they are dumb. It means they haven’t been exposed to this newer technology very much and they don’t have the level of knowledge necessary to spot these very sophisticated scammers. Make sure they are aware of this multi-billion-dollar business and that there is no shame in questioning anything they think might be fake.
Here is a list of items you can use to start your talk:
Verify the “From” address is from the domain of the company that supposedly sent the email.
Read the email out loud. Does it sound like other emails you have read? Is there any broken English or typos?
Don’t click on any links, hover over the link to see where it really is going.
Contact the company or individual through their published phone number or the number on their bill, or if it is a friend use another method of communication that you know is really them or contact a mutual friend to verify the story.
If the email claims to be a receipt for a purchase for Amazon or another online retailer, don’t follow any links, or call the listed number, login to your account like you normally would, to check for activity. The same goes for your bank or credit card.
Do you have an account with this company that uses this email address? I occasionally get emails in my email for businesses that I don’t have an account, my wife has the account under her email.
Call them back on their advertised number. Look on your last bill from them and use that number. Even if their number shows up on caller ID as belonging to the company.
Never give them a payment over the phone especially an uncommon type of payment like a gift card or Bitcoin. Real businesses and government offices do not require or even allow uncommon payment types.
Don’t give out personal information such as Social Security numbers, driver’s license number, birthdate or account numbers. Since they called you, they should already have this information.
No government agency will call you about some new issue. They will send you a letter.
Technology companies like Microsoft, Dell, HP, Apple or any others will not call you about your device unless you have purchased a maintenance support plan with them. Even if you have a support plan, they won’t call you about something going on with your device. They are not monitoring them in that manner. The only time they will call you is to return a call that you made to them.
Remember, scams are also happening on social media, text messages and can even pop up on your computer uninvited. When it comes to scams of any kind, education and being aware will keep you from becoming a victim. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, or if it seems really bad, check it with a known source. Never follow a link in an email without first verifying it is real. Never accept an unsolicited phone call. Call them back on their advertised phone number to verify what they are telling you.
After you have “the talk” why not subscribe to my email newsletter – Scam Busters Monthly Report? I will email a copy to you and your parent every month to help you educate them and to continue the conversation. This subscription is normally $50 per year, but I will give both of you the monthly newsletter for this same $50 per year. I have been talking to my parents for years about scams and due to this they have successfully stopped a number of potential scammers. I want the same for your family.
Every month I highlight scams and show how to determine they are scams. I use pictures to show exactly why these are not real messages. I also occasionally interview experts in the industry to get the latest info to all of my subscribers. Subscribers can also look back at the previous newsletters in my archive. In addition to the newsletter, I allow my subscribers to send me emails they are not sure about, and I will tell them if it is a scam or not.
To sign up simply follow this link and fill out the form:
I get this question a lot. Here is what I tell people.
What to look for if you think your computer has been infected with adware:
All of a sudden, your computer is running very slow and your web browser (Edge, Google Chrome or Firefox) won’t load or takes a very long time. Once your browser does load the familiar home page has been replaced by a different page and the search bar doesn’t say Google or Bing but some new search company. There are also annoying pop-ups all over your pages.
Yes, your computer has been infected, but where did it come from? Most likely you went to an unfamiliar website and it told you that you need something installed to run the video or some other element of their page. If this happens, be very careful what you click on. They sometimes use icons that look similar to the big names like Adobe. If they want you to install “flash player” it might be their product not Adobe’s. Don’t follow their link, instead close the page and go to www.adobe.com and download the real thing. After you install it, go back to the same website, if it still tells you that you need their “flash player”, find another website to view whatever it is that you want to view.
This is one way these deceptive advertisers gain entry into your computer. The purpose is to force you to use their search engine which gives them higher rankings and they can charge more for advertising. They also open the door to others that want to give you more pop-ups and other unnecessary programs. They also might include programs that keep track of your keystrokes in hopes of stealing your SSI# or banking information.
How to protect yourself:
Pay attention to your homepage (the page that loads every time you open your web browser). If it changes without your knowledge, your system has been compromised.
If you try to go to a specific website and you are redirected somewhere else, your system might be compromised.
If you notice advertising where you didn’t see any before, your system might be compromised.
If you notice any of these things happening to your computer, you need to act quickly to prevent more damage. The programs that have been installed need to be removed, but they hide in other places also. The best thing to do is call me and I will remove all traces of these damaging programs.